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Blackboard recommends using a dual-socket, quad core configuration for standard through advanced sizing configurations. Systems offering a Hyper-Threading option are recommended as these have revealed in benchmarks to provide a performance advantage.

High availability

High availability may be provided via an Oracle RAC configuration or Microsoft SQL Server Active/Passive Failover Cluster. Blackboard offers support for RAC with all versions of Oracle supported by Blackboard. For information about running Blackboard Learn with RAC, see Oracle RAC Support. To learn more about the SQL Server Failover capabilities of Blackboard Learn, contact Blackboard Consulting.

It is strongly recommended by Blackboard that for purposes of system management Blackboard Learn be installed on a single instance of Oracle. If for reasons of Institutional Policy you must run Blackboard Learn in a RAC environment you may do so, but Blackboard will only support the installation at the Learn-Oracle JDBC layer - not at the Oracle RAC layer.

High availability is supported through an optional cluster configuration with a redundant instance of the database running on a second server using Oracle RAC or SQL Server Failover capabilities to provide the redundant database functionality.

Memory sizing

Sizing for memory is absolutely critical for ensuring a high-performing and reliable configuration.

Oracle configurations require a set of inputs to calculate the SGA and PGA spaces of memory. The SGA will contain both the SQL area for caching statements as well as the buffer cache for storing blocks of data in memory. The PGA space will maintain the process memory requirements as well as hash and sorting space for query execution. The combination of these two regions makes up the requirements of Oracle memory.

SQL Server will have similar memory requirements as Oracle. SQL Server memory is broken down into three regions:

  • Buffer Pool
  • Procedure Cache
  • MemToLeave

These regions are transparent to DBAs to simplify application management purposes.

Database data file storage

Blackboard Learn uses a relational database system (Oracle and SQL Server) for the storage of database content.

Clients on UNIX platforms may use one of the following:

  • A network file share (NFS)
  • ISCSI (networked block-level)
  • Direct attached storage (block-level)

Clients on Windows SQL Server may use one of the following:

  • ISCSI (networked block-level)
  • Direct attached storage (block-level)

The database storage requirements of institutions can vary. Typically, database content can range from 5-100 times less than file system content. Sizing the database depends on archival strategies, data management policies, RAID configuration, and, most importantly, I/O performance standards. Blackboard typically assumes that the file system will require between 350 to 600 I/O per second per application server at peak. To calculate your I/O per second needs, multiply this metric against the number of application servers in your deployment. The primary driver for database storage should be performance.